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Hyper Blaster HD by Hyperkin: Duck Hunt on LCD/LED TVs

The reviews on this site are the text versions of the videos on my YouTube channel. The text based reviews use (if at all) very little pictures. Please follow the link to the corresponding video in order to see in game graphics.

In episode 88 I showed Modern Mallard, which allowed people to play Duck Hunt on a LCD TV. It was invented by Jeff Keacher who made a Kickstarter campaign for the project. Sadly the campaign did not attract enough money in time.

Modern Mallard did however push Aleksey to get his own project done, which does something very similar. In episode 98 I showed the so called "NESLCDMOD" project in more detail and interviewed Aleksey. For this community I came up with a compatible gun design. People could now mod their existing guns or build entirely new guns to play NESLCDMOD patched games. I am very flattered that my work was shown in an episode at one of my favorite YouTube channels called "Candi's Classic Game Shrine".

In early 2019 Hyperkin announced that they are going to release a commercial product which from a distance looked a lot like a Modern Mallard copy. The product is called "Hyper Blaster HD". I contacted Jeff and he told me that Hyperkin did not approach him whatsoever. Later that year Hyperkin told on facebook that the Hyper Blaster HD was based on the NESLCDMOD project. This made me very curious and so I bought a unit after it was released in late 2019.

The Hyper Blaster HD gun deviates a lot from its prototype which was shown in early 2019. That one had a color scheme which resembled the Yobo “NES Light Gun”. The production version however resembles more the gun Hyperkin has sold for their FC Super Loader and which was distributed by Yobo for their "FC3plus" console. The similarity ends with the color, as the Hyper Blaster HD gun is of a far higher built quality. It feels much sturdier because of the rigid, thick plastic. Two included weights give the gun a great balance and make it very pleasant to hold. The manufacturing quality is still not on par with that one of an original Zapper or a Micro Genius clone thereof such as the TLG-403, but it outclasses all other more recent clones.

A big flaw of the gun is the terrible sight picture. The light blue side plate reaches right in between front and back sight and obstructs much of the view. The trigger is tactile and clicky. On the bottom of the gun is a three position selector switch, which wasn't present on the prototype. Opening the gun made me grin for a good while, as Hyperkin first denied my light gun design, but then copied my resistor based attenuator approach. Their own board is more sophisticated though. The three positions of the switch stand for three stages of attenuation. Furthermore there is a low pass frequency filter which is active on the two more sensitive settings. I guess this three stage setting design is simpler to trouble shoot, but we will see later in the review whether this was a smart idea or not.

The Hyper Blaster HD uses a Game Genie like cartridge which is connected between console and game. It then applies the NESLCDMOD patch to Duck Hunt and allows you to play it, if it works. This idea was lifted from Modern Mallard which proposed the same thing, in order to circumvent the intellectual property rights of Nintendo. The circuit boards of the two projects are different and don't work the same way.

Even though the packaging states multiple times that the Hyper Blaster HD was compatible with Duck Hunt this is not true. I own and tested the North American version and the Famicom version of Duck Hunt. Both didn't work with Hyperkin's patch board. The board is solely compatible with the Super Mario Bros. and Duck Hunt double cartridge. It won't work either with the triple cartridge which also contains "Word Class Track Meet". Even when using the proper double cartridge chances are that the patch board won't work as the used cartridge connector is very short and struggles to make a good connection to all the hardware revisions of the game board. I guess that's what their "functionality may vary depending on cartridge" disclaimer is for. The high incompatibility came as a surprise to me as Hyperkin was using proper Duck Hunt cartridges in the beginning of the year. This suggests that there were major revisions during development.

Sadly the compatibility issues don't end at the cartridge. The Hyper Blaster HD doesn't work on the original Nintendo Entertainment System because of the lock out chip. Hyperkin has skillfully proven before that they don't have any clue what a lock out chip is and what it does by releasing their non functional pin adapter. Inserting the patch board into an original NES will cause the cartridge to get stuck and the player has to open up the console to get it back. The Hyper Blaster HD claims to be compatible to the NES-101 top loader and personally I successfully used it on a Famicom AV and a Micro Genius IQ-701. I have found that the patch board isn't compatible with the Micro Genius IQ-501, the Analogue NT mini and the Virtual Station.

Unfortunately the bad news don't end here, because even if the player manages to find a compatible game cartridge and a compatible console chances are that the game can't be played because of the limited sensitivity settings of the Hyper Blaster HD Gun. If the gun is set up too sensitive the gun will consider shooting the blue sky as a hit, which I will refer to as a false positive. This was a very well known problem in the very beginning of the NESLCDMOD project and which I solved with my gun design. All of the three sensitivity settings of the Hyper Blaster HD Gun yield in false positives on my Sony Bravia TV. Of course I can play the game fine using my own gun design, as at the end of the day the Hyper Blaster HD is just a very cumbersome way to play a single game of the NESLCDMOD project. The Modern Mallard gun works fine too with the Hyper Blaster HD. The Hyper Blaster HD Gun works with non patched games on a CRT so I guess if somebody likes the color blue and likes sturdy built guns but doesn't care about having a sight picture this isn't a terrible choice. Otherwise this gun is a great disappointment.

It puzzles me how the Hyper Blaster HD came to be. I would assume Hyperkin did not contact Jeff Keacher because they thought his work would be more expensive to license than Aleksey's work, whom they thought they can underpay, because he is Russian. Doing so Hyperkin forgot that this isn't just a software problem but also a hardware problem. Now they have splashed a development budget for at least two revisions of a gun controller and at least two revisions of a patch board which both barely work, yielding in miserable Amazon reviews. All of this without even speaking to Jeff and talking about licensing fees. I sincerely hope that Hyperkin will learn that saving a dime won't always make you rich.

The box design is appealing and it features glossy highlights. Besides the previously mentioned false claims it dares to state that the Hyper Blaster HD was the first time ever Duck Hunt was playable on HD TVs.